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Metamericana by Seth Abramson Reviewed in New Pages

 

Metamericana

  • Image
  • Poetry
  •  Seth Abramson
  • 2015
  • ISBN-13: 978-1-60964-194-8
  • Paperback
  • 120pp
  • $16.00
  • Benjamin Champagne
A good poem places pressure on language in an interesting way. This mantra can be peeled from the pages of Seth Abramson’s Metamericana. However, his secret seems to be that a good poem places pressure on ideas in an interesting way—that a good idea places pressure on old ideas in an interesting way. Philosophy places pressure on technology and technology places pressure on philosophy. All of this interacts in a swirling and kaleidoscopic manner. 

The Metamodernists use the prefix meta, derived from Plato’s metaxis. In Metamodernism, it is the movement between modernism and postmodernism that grants a static and stable nature. Elements that were often opposed now seen to be one, mostly irony and sincerity. To achieve this, Abramson uses conceptual poetry, the creative methodology of which he describes at the end of the work. 

The book begins with two patterned pieces. The opening poem is called “Genesis”: “Much made of little. Little made of knowledge. Knowledge made of scholarship.” The poem continues on like that for an entire page, the movement from each subject fluid and logical, occasionally funny or transgressive. A further glimpse provides more insight:
Moonlight made of fantasy. Fantasy made of cleverness. Cleverness made of ridicule. Ridicule made of Hondas. Hondas made of steel. Steel made of Superman. Superman made of Marvel. Marvel made of DC. DC made of politicians. Politicians made of turkey. Turkey made of banks. Banks made of efficacy. Efficacy made of ink. Ink made of blood. Blood made of chocolate. Chocolate made of God. God made of Bibles. Bibles made of laws.
His commentary on what it takes to create a fantasy is all rolled up in the clever turns of phrase he delivers. These in turn help him to comment on politics and society from a position that lacks self­righteousness. The poems arrive in these positions naturally and move out of them just as easily, passing through God, Genetics, Uncertainty and Humanity. The poem finishes by saying “Men made of women. Women made of women. Women made of women. Women made of women,” assumedly into infinity. 
 
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The Sun & the Moon by Kristina Marie Darling Reviewed at the Iowa Review

Kristina Marie Darling’s new book The Sun & The Moon takes up the metaphor of celestial bodies to contemplate the movement of the bodies of two lovers as they move through the space of their lives. To illustrate the astronomical importance of her undertaking, Darling’s Appendix A offers three illustrations of two famous astronomical clocks. These clocks “show the relative location of the sun and the moon,” as well as planets and constellations. Though these other minor heavenly bodies make an appearance, it is the story of the sun and moon’s relationship to each other where Darling focuses her light.      

The long poem “The Sun & The Moon” consists of numbered prose poems and presents a teleological narrative that is signaled sometimes as one day, a calendar year, or several years of celestial orbit. Darling signals chronology by adopting the numbering system of the illustrated clocks, presenting twenty-two poems and a narrative that follows the seasonal changes created by sunlight received. Darling’s book is also a teleological narrative of a marriage, from the initial first night of the wedding party to a last night after the husband’s departure. In the poem, the speaker watches her party burn, contemplates what her husband brings to their union, and catalogs her own acquiesces to what she witnesses with a scientific, detached horror. Though she “did what she could to keep the house from burning,” she acknowledges that “sometimes things go wrong at parties.” This narrative suggests that couples lack complete power to direct a relationship’s arc, despite herculean efforts. The Sun & The Moon is the wife’s story. Blame and fault is cast on the husband, who “had an odd way of showing affection” and leads in an army of ghosts who polished knives, watched them, took notes, and eventually drove them apart. The husband is also the one who tends the fires and shakes an “empty wine bottle in the air.” Though the wife blames the husband for his destructive role, she owns her complicity. She loves him, says it’s a marriage of “practicality,” one which only began when “we decided we’d generate our own heat.” She admits, “It’s the strangest things that keep me from leaving.” Though the husband/sun leaves, the wife/moon ends the relationship by starting the fire, an act that surprises even the ghosts. Darling writes, “It’s safe to say they didn’t expect me to light the first match.” Like clocks that trace time, teleological narratives posit a beginning and an end, and both remind us to see time, and here, marriage, as linear. Marriage is built with an anticipated end.

Read more on The Sun and Moon Here 

 

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Requited by Kristina Marie Darling reviewed on Drunken Boat

 

Leaving Their Roses Behind 

Reviewed by Carlo Matos 

When a pair of doomed lovers wanders a garden, as they do in the very
first prose poem of Kristina Marie Darling’s Requited, it’s hard not to cast
them in the roles of Adam and Eve, the original doomed pair of the
Christian tradition. “We walk to a rose garden in the dead of winter,”
says our heroine, which suggests the garden may have already gone
through its postlapsarian transformation, trapped as it is in “a season
[that] never changes.” They stroll in a garden where the ivy is dead and
the only cherubs about are made of ice-cracked stone. Right from the
start, we sense the relationship, like the statues, is fracturing. “There
are always so many things that can go wrong in a conversation,” says
our speaker, which on the surface of things is a wonderfully simple way
of describing how relationships often miss the mark, but it also has to be
the most understated way of describing the ultimate failure of logos in
the first paradise—a series of catastrophic conversations between
YHWH, the couple, and the pesky serpent.

And like their Biblical counterparts, they too must eventually leave
the garden: “The way out of the garden is simple. I let go of your hand
and climb over a chain link fence.” The way out, of course, is always
simple; it’s the way back in that is challenging like the walled garden
of Milton’s paradise protected by warlike archangels with flaming
swords. Milton’s couple walks hand-in-hand east of Eden, but for
Darling’s couple to find their way out, they must simply break their grip
and make the climb alone.

Read the whole review here 

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Pointed Sentences by Bill Yarrow Reviewed on Prick of the Spindle

Pointed Sentences by Bill Yarrow

BlazeVOX [books], 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60964-082-8
Paperback, 146 pp., $16
Review by Marie Loeffler

“I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.”
—from “Song of Myself” (1892 version) by Walt Whitman

A celebration of humanity seems to circumscribe Bill Yarrow’s poetic style, his artistic curiosity drawn out in phrases that take common experiences, elevating them into all-encompassing—possibly best described as worldly—perspectives on existence. Yarrow is bold as he juxtaposes complex images and ideas, delving deeper than surface thinking on any given topic, while he explores a rich collection of diverse word meanings and themes. He utilizes a variety of poetic forms, as well, fusing the intricate human mind’s multifarious inner workings with humor, personality, and humility.

Yarrow most poignantly sings of the self in past reflections of personal journeys, describing such events with intense imagery and words that paint a poetic tableau of colors, scents, and tastes. Yarrow vividly recounts a vacation he took at a northern resort where

He was drawn to water…
Water of dangerous
hues of blue. More violet than the pale-faced palette
of the sky.

He follows this solid setting of his scene with a more serious philosophical reflection:

Water, the glue of contingent necessity.
Water, the stippled foundation of all foundational
philosophy. He looked into the watery eyes of the old
woman sitting next to him.

This excerpt is striking for many reasons: Yarrow’s play on the word “foundation,” the rhythm of the section with syllables that dance lightly on the tongue when spoken aloud, the repetition of “Water.” Due to all of these minute yet hardly insignificant nuances, the piece has not only a strong visual quality, but also a musical feel that is a pleasure to read. But this pleasure does not in any way make the poem trivial; the work is enhanced by the seriousness of Yarrow’s connection to the place and to the old woman he notices, who readers are invited to observe with the author in tandem—a prompt that randomly and miraculously connects everyone who participates in viewing this particular work. The entire vignette draws to a similarly mellifluous and soothing close with alliteration in syllables as smooth as the images Yarrow employs to give life to his thoughts:

The sun was disappearing over
Traverse City. There was nothing on the lake but a
faint sailboat and a shadowy gull…
The soft sounds of sunset had subsided into silence.
The black water infinitely resonant spoke a lasting vastness.

Read the whole review here
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Kristina Marie Darling interviewed at Poet's Quarterly

The “Darling” of the Poetry World

Millicent Bórges Accardi, Interviews Editor

Reviews have made me a better writer, one who is more articulate
about her own practice. Poetry is a conversation, and your book is
just the beginning.

The “Darling” of the Poetry World


Millicent Bórges Accardi, Interviews Editor

Reviews have made me a better writer, one who is more articulate about her own practice. Poetry is a conversation, and your book is just the beginning.


The author of over twenty books, including Melancholia (An Essay), Petrarchan and a hybrid genre collection called Fortress, as well as a collaboration poetry book with Carol Guess about bridal registries called X Marks the Dress, Kristina Marie Darling is one of the most prolific writers in the 21st century.
Darling’s awards include fellowships from Yaddo, the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, and the Hawthornden Castle International Retreat for Writers, as well as grants from the Kittredge Fund and the Elizabeth George Foundation. She is currently working toward a Ph.D. in Poetics at S.U.N.Y.-Buffalo.

Millicent Bórges Accardi: Erin Elizabeth Smith (director of Sundress Academy in Knoxville) in an Amazon review calls X Marks the Dress, “a narrative of love and identity that unpacks itself again and again. . .Lines and images reappear in new and surprising ways—footnotes, appendices, definitions—that stunningly illustrate exactly how slippery love can be.”


Where did you come up with the inspiration for this poetry collection?

Kristina Marie Darling: My collaborator, Carol Guess, was the mastermind. She had the brilliant idea of structuring the book around the idea of a bridal registry, with each poem named for a domestic object. We wrote the poems in call and response style, with Carol starting us off, and then I responded to her work, and so on. Carol assumed the voice of the husband, and I was the wife. As we worked, the book went in many unexpected directions. For example, the husband realized that he was really a woman. But things didn't become really wild until we introduced a mistress into the narrative....

Water Goblets

Your girlfriend licks sugar off the rim of a crystal shot glass. What happens to the wedding gifts if a marriage dissolves? Before, it was easy to send thank you notes: white scented paper, matching envelopes, & dark green ink. But now you’re changing in the bathroom, unbuttoning the shirt I bought for you at some Labor Day sale. Soon I see you all pale blue in someone else’s designer dress. I’ve undone the little clasp on my purse, searching for gift receipts. Sweetheart, your new bride is waiting in her mud-stained car. The husband I remember wouldn’t look back.

(Link to Mistress flash poems in Mudlark)

MBA: X Marks the Dress is a niche market book which I think could straddle the poetry world and a general audience. For example, I can see brides getting that book at showers or women giving it as gifts before a wedding. Have you experienced cross-over readers?

KMD: Carol and I were amused when the book hit #1 on the Amazon.com Bestselling New Releases for books about bridal gowns.

Read the whole interview here

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Extra Pages

Photos on flickr